Monday, December 19, 2016

High cost of drugs

I heard about some newfangled drug for Hepatitis C that costs $90,000 for three months. I am sure there are worse examples,

It's not your imagination if you think the cost of prescription drugs is going up.

Brand name drugs, explains Lixian Zhong, PhD, assistant prof of pharmaceutical sciences at Texas A& M, "due to the high cost of development, start out expensive and then tend to go up in price every year. Combine this with other factors...and you have ballooning prices."

Still, generic drugs are actually going down--it's the averaging of brand name and generic, that brings up prices overall.

The most expensive drugs treat "orphan" diseases--those affecting fewer than 200,000 people. The fewer the potential customers, the fewer people who can buy it before the patent expires, and the less time the company has to recoup its investment.

Specialty drugs--treating complex, chronic conditions, also tend to be expensive. This includes drugs to treat Hep C, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and others.

Still, the $90,000 Hep C drug mentioned above can cure the disease--which saves even more money in hospital feesm which can cause insurance companies to look kindly on such drugs.

Experts point out that most people don't pay these sticker prices. Insurance companies and others negotiate prices with the companies.

If you need an expensive drug:

--Seek help from patient assistance programs (at pharmcos, states and non-profits).

--If you have private insurance, look for copay coupons--ask.

--Shop around--rates vary at pharmacies.

--Ask the pharmacy if they will negotiate--some will. Doesn't hurt to ask.

What a hodgepodge our system is.

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